Black Bean Pizza Crust

BLACK BEAN PIZZA CRUST

The end of the old year always makes me rethink my food choices for the new year. Perhaps the numerous cookies I quality tested also encouraged my recipe experiments. I always try to modify my recipes toward the healthier side, even while I keep the good taste. I’ve made great whole wheat and almond flour pizza crusts and I enjoyed the beautiful, red beet crust variation. What would a black bean crust taste like? My “wild side” wants to know!

Ingredients for one large single pizza crust—
¾ cup black beans (about ½ of a 15oz can) = 7.5 oz low salt beans
7 oz water warm
1¼ tsp sugar (or sweetener of choice, optional, but recommended to feed the yeast)
2¼ tsp yeast = 1 package
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt

Black Bean Pizza Crust

1 Drain beans, then mash with a fork, or purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add water as necessary (in 1 Tbsp increments).
2 Whisk together warm water, sugar, yeast, and bean purée.
3 Mix together flours and salt, add slowly to yeast mixture (if not using a bread machine, stir as flour mixture is added).
4 Knead until the dough is elastic.
5 Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
6 Shape pizza dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
7 Arrange toppings and sauce of your choice on top of shaped dough. Put half of cheese on dough, then tomatoes, spinach, spices, rest of cheese, finishing with tomatoes, and dusting with more spices.
8 Bake 15 to 20 minutes (or until toppings are cooked through). Cut into 8 pieces. Two pieces make a very filling meal for most ladies. One piece would fill a child, and a hungry man might three.

Nutrition for Black Bean Pizza Crust

I admit the crust doesn’t taste much like a typical pizza, yet I enjoyed the difference. It does need a tad longer to cook, and the moisture in the beans are the reason for that. It might be best to go all “Mexican” with the seasoning, as well as to use a ground beef for the protein. A habanero jack cheese would be excellent too. In the new year, we might “walk on the wild side” with our recipe choices on occasion! I hope you enjoy it and have a blessed New Year!

Joy and Peace, Cornie

OTHER INGREDIENTS FOR FULLY DRESSED PIZZA:

Pizza blend cheese 8 oz x 80 is 640 calories
Tomatoes 3 oz x 8 servings is 24 oz is 600 calories
Baby spinach 6 oz is 40 calories
Mushrooms 1 cup is 15 calories
Chicken breast 8 oz is 272
Total pie topping = 1567 calories or each serving is 195 calories

896 calories total for 8 servings = 112 calories for crust
Total pie topping = 1567 calories or each serving is 195 calories
Each serving total is 307 calories total.

Advertisements

EGG NOG RECIPE FROM SCRATCH

Before the first frost is on the Halloween pumpkin, my local grocery store stocks the milk case with flavored egg nogs. While I think they might be rushing the season of good cheer a bit, and the rest of the world is going Gaga over the PSL, I’m not yet ready for this rich holiday beverage just yet.

Christmas in my corner of the world

I like to mark the seasons and the holidays as they come, and give each one proper due and respect. These have become like old friends, with whom I can share my memories of the way things used to be, as well as our hopes for the future to come. Once Thanksgiving’s interminable meals of turkey variations had ceased, we couldn’t bear to face another bowl of turkey soup, turkey casserole, turkey and dumplings, or chipped turkey with gravy on toast. My daddy had an uncouth expression for this recipe, so mother only served it once and last of all.

When it finally appeared on the dinner table, it was a sign of rejoicing for us, for Christmas was just around the corner! We knew soon we’d be making fruit cake, cookies, candies, and other seasonal specialties in mother’s kitchen. The grownups usually had a party at our home, so we’d get a taste of that wonderful concoction, homemade eggnog with a bit of spirits added for the celebration. We got the cup without the spirits for the early party, but I remember tasting my parents’ cup to experience the grownup beverage.

As I’ve aged, I have lost my taste for these exceptionally rich foods. I’m more like the babies in their high chairs: I want my flavors and textures distinct and discernible. One day I may need a divided plate to keep my foods from touching, but not yet. Of course, the idea of a milky, alcoholic drink with eggs in it dates back to a medieval British drink called “posset,” writes Elizabeth Dias for Time. “By the 13th century,” she writes, “monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.”

The dead of winter was good time to celebrate survival and to lubricate the social bonds to bring about continued prosperity of the community. The wealthy could afford those expensive ingredients to make eggnog in Britain, but in America it became a common drink due to the number of farms. Rum became the alcohol of choice, since rum from the Caribbean wasn’t taxed as heavily as European spirits like brandy.

George Washington’s recipe for eggnog suggests the founding father had a strong stomach. He forgot to specify how many eggs should be used in it, but cooks of the era thought a dozen or so would be good. Washington’s recipe includes the usual ingredients—sugar, milk, cream, eggs—but adds one pint of brandy, half a pint of rye, half a pint of rum and a quarter pint of sherry to the mix. Raise one to the father of the country!

FAMILY EGGNOG RECIPE

My aunt gave me a handwritten book of over one hundred recipes when I got my first apartment in art school. One was for Christmas Eggnog, which isn’t “just something to drink, but a traditional Christmas ceremony in Dixie, when friends and family gather together to enjoy Yuletide festivities.”

Her recipe served 12 and had 12 of nearly everything:

12 eggs separated

12 Tbs sugar

12 Tbs whiskey

12 Tbs Jamaican rum

1 quart whipping cream

Nutmeg

For Auntie ‘s recipe, separate the yolks and whites. Beat the yolks till light, then add sugar slowly, and beat again till light. Add the liquor very slowly; don’t dump it in all at once! Keep beating while adding the liquor. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks in separate bowl and fold into yolk mixture. Whip the cream till it expands to double in size. Fold this into the mix of eggs and whites. Tradition serves this drink in small cups with grated nutmeg topping and a silver spoon. A thin slice of rum soaked fruit cake accompanies it on a plate. My understanding is with fruit cake, the more rum it has, the better it is, or that may be the eggnog talking.

TRADITIONAL EGGNOG RECIPE

I put a traditional egg nog recipe through my recipe program. I didn’t care for what I saw! This drink wouldn’t be on my healthy eating plan. Then I decided to adjust the recipe. I decided not to use the full sugar or whole milk, but opted for the lesser caloric bombs. I kept the full fat whipping cream, since it’s there to give body and thickness to the drink. This texture is important. Save the 2 egg whites for adding to an omelet for a meal. Don’t waste them.

Nutritional Values

Ingredients—

1 vanilla bean (or 1 Tbs real vanilla extract)

4 cups milk 2%

2/3 cup sugar (2/3 cup or 32 tsp Splenda for diabetics)

4 whole large eggs

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Scotch whisky, bourbon, or rum (optional)

Cinnamon or allspice for topping

Servings–Makes 12 servings of about 1/2 cup each (before adding 1 oz. alcohol)

Directions–

Split the vanilla bean in half by holding one end down on a cutting board and running a knife away from your hand and down the length of the bean. Open up the bean, and then use the back side of the knife to scrape out the black seeds. Place the seeds and the husk (or the 1 Tbs real vanilla) in a small saucepan along with the milk and sugar or Splenda.

Heat over medium low heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning until the surface is foamy and the milk is steaming hot.

In a large bowl, add the whole eggs and egg yolks and whisk until pale yellow and foamy. Place the bowl on a wet towel so it doesn’t slip, and then pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly (it may be easier to have someone help you). It’s important to keep the egg moving as you add the hot milk, otherwise it will clump.

If you’re concerned about Salmonella, measure the temperature of your mixture with a candy thermometer and if it has not hit 160 degrees F, pour it all back into the pot and cook over low heat while stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. If you heat it anymore, the egg will curdle.

Whisk in the cream and serve warm, or chill in the fridge. I like to serve the alcohol on the side, so people can add as much or as little as they like. This respects the designated drivers, as well as those who don’t drink alcohol for personal reasons. Remember adding alcohol adds calories and carbohydrates. One ounce of alcohol per hour is the most the average person can metabolize. Consuming more than four (4) drinks on a single night is considered binge drinking, an unhealthy lifestyle activity. Consider drinking every other nog beverage without spirits to slow your imbibing down, or choose water instead.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

I hope you have a safe and blessed holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukkah, and may the joy of life and the promise of hope be always in your hearts and minds. Let’s all pledge to choose one better action for our health in 2019 and keep after this one thing! We can do it!

Love, Joy, and Peace,

Cornie

Beet Crust Pizza

For some reason, when I go into my kitchen, I like to walk on the wild side. Do I go there in real life? Never–you won’t find me climbing up a rock face or hanging off the side of a cliff. When I went to Masada, the ancient fortress where the Jews held out against the overwhelming Roman army which surrounded their mountain fortress, I was terrified as I rode the air tram up to the top. Then I discovered I had to walk on an exterior cantilevered sidewalk hanging out over the valley below to get inside the historic site.

Beet Crust Pizza with Spinach and Chicken

Once I was on solid ground, I could enjoy myself. Going back down I could do, since I’d survived it already one time. Cooking adventures in my kitchen aren’t exactly survival shows like Chopped or Naked and Afraid. Too much drama in those for me! I tend to get an idea in mind, lay out all the ingredients, and start the process. Sometimes I make it up as I go, and other times I’ve read an interesting recipe in the newspaper or on the internet. Most of the time I make a variation on the recipe for my own health’s sake to limit the salt, sugar, and fat in the mix. I use whole grain flour and extra virgin olive oil when I bake, and fresh foods whenever possible. Using foods in season keeps the grocery bill reasonable and assures a variety of nutrients in my menu too.

I had a craving for beets last week, so ate them in salads because of the hot weather. I had a lonely beet left in the veggie compartment, so rather than let it go to waste, I washed, peeled , diced , and microwaved it for 5 minutes until very soft. Then I mushed with a fork. While this was cooking, I combined in a cup 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast, 1 tbsp Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave), and .25 cup (8 fl oz) hot Water from the tap.

As the yeast was bubbling, I was sifting the dry ingredients together in a large bowl:

0.75 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 serving Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour – per 1/4 Cup

.25 tsp Salt

Then I added the mushed beets, the yeast mix, and ADD 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Stir together well. If the mix won’t combine into a ball, add just enough water to make it so.

Turn the crust out onto parchment paper. Use .25 Cup Whole Wheat Flour to kneed the dough for a few minutes. Then roll out the crust to an even thinness. It should be about 12 inches in diameter.

Rub 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the surface of the crust to seal it. Add the toppings onto the crust:

4 oz Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach

226 gram Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend (8 oz)

8 ounces Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, roasted, chopped

Sprinkle the spices over the top evenly:

1 tsp Garlic powder, 1 tbsp Basil, 1 tbsp Parsley, dried; and 1 tsp Oregano, ground

Cut into thin slices about 6 ounces or 168 grams Tomatoes, (red, ripe, raw, year round average) and arrange around the outer edge.

To finish off the presentation, turn up the edges of the crust and press down so the fillings don’t ooze out. The cooked crust is a surprising pink and the topping is a rich filling delight.

Minutes to Prepare: 15

Minutes to Cook: 20 at 425 F preheated oven

(15 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven)

Number of Servings: 8 single pieces–kids or 4 servings (2 slices) for adults

Tips: You could make the crust with chopped spinach for a green crust on St. Patrick’s Day.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

Calories in Beet Crust Pizza with Chicken and Spinach

Serving Size: 8 slices of the pizza—I usually eat 2 normally, or 3 if I’m ravenous.

Number of Servings: 8

• Calories: 242.1

• Total Fat: 12.6 g

• Cholesterol: 37.7 mg

• Sodium: 302.0 mg

• Total Carbs: 18.3 g

• Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g

• Protein: 18.7 g

Calories per serving of Beet Crust Pizza with Chicken and Spinach

81 calories of Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend, (28.25 gram)

37 calories of Whole Wheat Flour, (0.09 cup)

34 calories of Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, roasted, (1 ounces)

21 calories of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour – per 1/4 Cup, (0.13 serving)

16 calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, (0.13 tbsp)

16 calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, (0.13 tbsp)

12 calories of Whole Wheat Flour, (0.03 cup)

8 calories of Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave), (0.13 tbsp)

5 calories of Beets, fresh, (0.13 beet (2″ dia))

5 calories of Active Dry Yeast, (0.13 tbsp)

4 calories of Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average, (21 grams)

3 calories of Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach, (0.50 oz)

1 calories of Garlic powder, (0.13 tsp)

1 calories of Oregano, ground, (0.13 tsp)

0 calories of Parsley, dried, (0.13 tbsp)

0 calories of Basil, (0.13 tbsp)

SHARK WEEK CHOCOLATE BARK

Shark Week always grabs my attention. After all, that’s what sharks do! Or maybe because it’s far too hot to be outside in Arkansas or because my inner child loves to learn new things. I always loved the beach as a child, since the sea breezes kept the heat tolerable. Inland, folks just suffered in the sweltering humidity pods. Thankfully we now have modern air conditioning, an invention that didn’t come to my home until I was a teenager.

When the temperature was 99F at 10 PM, even a ceiling fan wouldn’t make sleeping comfortable. Cooking was out of the question. Daddy would barbecue or we’d eat cold cuts and fruit. Chocolate candy bark didn’t take long to heat on the stove, so it was a treat to make in the cooler mornings. It also reminds me of coral reefs, which Shark Week shows us nightly on the Discovery Channel.

Corals come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some resemble deer antlers, trees, giant fans, brains, and honeycomb. Although many corals may look like plants, they’re actually animals; they’re most closely related to jellyfish and anemones. There are three different types of coral reef formations—barrier reefs, coral atolls, and fringing reefs. Barrier reefs help to protect lagoons and other types of shallow water; coral atolls (which are often mistaken for islands) are made from volcanic remains; and fringing reefs are found right along the coastline.

Coral reefs, which only grow at a maximum depth of around 150 feet, also grow very slowly, at an average rate of just two centimeters per year. This is because their biomes must maintain a temperature of 70 to 85º Fahrenheit. (Shallow water is more easily warmed by the sun.) Strangely, most coral reefs seem to grow on the eastern side of land masses, where the temperature is believed to be warmer than the western side. Stony coral groups are primarily responsible for building up reef structures.  Coral reefs grow upward from the sea floor as the polyps of new corals cement themselves to the skeletons of those below.

When I make Shark Week Chocolate Bark, I gather the following dry ingredients in a plastic bag or in a bowl:

120 gram(s) Wonderful Pistachios Roasted & Salted Shelled Pistachios

0.5 cup Dried cherries (tart montmorency)

12 pretzels Splits pretzels—break into pieces 1 inch long (I used the broken pieces in the bottom of the bag).

Also needed:

1 tbsp Vanilla extract —divided into 2 tsp and 1 tsp

12 tsp Coconut Sugar—divided into 8 tsp and 4 tsp

Then I weigh out 571 gram(s) GHIRARDELLI chocolate premium baking chips 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate — divided into 400 grams and 171 grams.

Take the larger amounts of chocolate baking chips first. Take chocolate and put into microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and melt them in the microwave. Stir well. The first or larger amount may need a second 30 second cooking. The hot melted pieces will melt the unmelted ones. Stir after each heating. Bowl will be HOT! Don’t over cook the chocolate.

Remove & add vanilla 2 tsp. Stir. Add 8 tsp sugar. Stir.

Turn out onto parchment paper on cookie sheet. Spread chocolate with spatula. Spread nut and pretzel mix out over it evenly. Gently press it into chocolate.

Take remaining chocolate and put into same bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well. The hot melted pieces will melt the unmelted ones. Don’t over cook the chocolate. Add 1 tsp vanilla and 3 tsp sugar. Stir well. Drizzle over the surface and spread out. It will almost cover the whole nut layer.

Put into icebox for for 30 to 45 minutes to harden. Afterward, cut into small pieces about 1” x 1 1/2”. It will keep in an airtight container for about two weeks.

Serving Size: Makes 36 pieces appropriately 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch.

Number of Servings: 36

As you can see, making chocolate bark with broken pretzels, pieces of dried fruit, and nuts comes together much like a coral reef: it gets all the various pieces cemented with a binding agent, which in the kitchen is chocolate. I don’t suggest you go out into the sea and nibble on a coral reef. It wouldn’t be good for the pearly whites.

The Benefits of Coral Reefs

Scientists have discovered that many parts of a coral reef can be harvested to make medications. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs are emerging as the medicine cabinets of the 21st century: “Coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses, and other diseases.”

Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. There are often more types of fish living in a two-acre area of healthy coral reef than there are species of birds in all of North America!

Coral reefs help to improve the quality of the surrounding water. They do this by filtering out things floating in the ocean, which leads to cleaner water. In addition to protecting shorelines, coral reefs are immensely valuable to the fishing and tourism industries. According to the World Resources Institute, the destruction of one kilometer of coral reef equals a loss of between $137,000 to $1,200,000 over a 25-year period. And yet, they estimate some 60% of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened by human activity.

Dark chocolate has its own benefits to humankind. Without it, some of us aren’t fit for civilized company! We don’t need a massive shark bite full of this calming food to bring us into a harmonious state. This is because chocolate has multiple chemicals that produce positive feelings in us. Phenylethylamine is sometimes called “the love drug”, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love. Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, is a mood-lifter, as well. One chemical that causes the release of serotonin into the brain is tryptophan, found in (wait for it!) chocolate!

If chocolate were a drug, we might need a prescription. Or we might find the law regulating how much chocolate we could have in our candies. As far as I’m concerned, the darker the better, but small children often prefer milk chocolate due to the greater sugar and milk content. Dark chocolate has probiotics and prebiotics, magnesium, iron, copper, and antioxidants. Even commercial dark chocolate bars will have large amounts of sugar, so not all dark chocolate is good for people with diabetes or weight issues. Look for 15 g carbohydrates per serving as a limit. Chocolate is a snack treat, not a meal.

A little afternoon pickmeup or as a side nibble with coffee and a friend, and your mood will be adjusted in no time. Then you can go back to swimming with the sharks and they can’t bite you, since you now have on your impervious dark chocolate shark repellent suit. Enjoy!

Joy and Peace,

Cornie

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 36

Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving

Calories

127.9

Total Fat

8.1 g

Saturated Fat

3.9 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

0.4 g

Monounsaturated Fat

0.8 g

Cholesterol

0.0 mg

Sodium

65.2 mg

Potassium

39.4 mg

Total Carbohydrate

15.1 g

Dietary Fiber

1.6 g

Sugars

9.1 g

Protein

2.1 g

Vitamin A

2.2 %

Vitamin B-12

0.0 %

Vitamin B-6

2.2 %

Vitamin C

0.3 %

Vitamin D

0.0 %

Vitamin E

0.0 %

Calcium

0.4 %

Copper

2.2 %

Folate

0.0 %

Iron

7.1 %

Magnesium

0.9 %

Manganese

2.2 %

Niacin

0.0 %

Pantothenic Acid

0.0 %

Phosphorus

1.7 %

Riboflavin

0.0 %

Selenium

0.0 %

Thiamin

1.7 %

Zinc

Summer Bounty Bowl

Summer Bounty Bowl

Summer is in full bloom here in Arkansas in the middle of July. We now have local crops in our grocery stores, and the tomatoes are especially sweet. A few more days on the counter top in the kitchen and they are sugar bombs!

The summer squashes are also excellent. I like the zucchini and crook neck yellow squashes small, so they will cook on the al dente side. Nothing beats the taste of corn on the cob cooked in its own husk. I take off a few outer leaves, rinse the whole under cool water, and place it on a folded paper towel in the microwave. I set the timer for 3 1/2 minutes and go about my business of cooking dinner.

I took 4 ounces of 10% fat ground beef for my cast iron frying pan. As I stirred it on medium high heat, I looked for the container of leftovers with 1/2 cup each of zucchini and summer squash, 3 ounces of tomatoes, 1/4 onion and mixed Italian herbs. Once the meat was almost brown, I added this to the pan. It heated quickly. I was glad for this, since my grocery shopping jaunt had gone longer than I planned, due to a sudden rain shower.

Not long after, I heard the microwave sound. The paper towel is handy for grabbing that hot cob! It steams well inside its own husk. Once I peeled it back, I had a handle to hold the cob upright in the pan. I took a knife and cut the kernels off into the meat mixture. By the time I threw away the cob and stirred the whole pan about a few times, the dish was ready to plate (or bowl, in this case). I used 3/4 ounce cheese to top it, and emptied the remnants of a bag of shredded cheese. It was a very filling supper. Tasty, too, or my appetite just has a much sharper edge these days!

This was a 425 calorie meal, and took no longer than 15 minutes to prepare and cook, with 28 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, and 33 g protein. It fits into a Mediterranean diet, and can fit into a low carbohydrate food plan. Paleo diets restrict corn because it’s a grain, and grains, as well as beans and legumes, are all excluded foods. Of course, paleo allows sweet potatoes, which have a higher carb content per cup (46 g) than corn (18 g), but no one ever said the paleo diet ever made scientific sense, anthropological sense, or medical sense.

In fact, our bodies are no longer the same as Stone Age people’s, just as our world has advanced beyond that era also. One aspect this diet fantasy does get correct is its insistence on whole or minimally processed foods. Of course, this is a characteristic of all healthy eating plans. The best plans, however, are the ones which have the least restrictions and the very best plans are the ones which you will stick to for a lifetime.

You heard right–lifetime compliance. We might fall off the wagon on a vacation or for a weekend, but not for longer. Especially if we have to watch our blood sugar closely. We know the damage from unrestrained highs or lows it can cause. I once hit a telephone pole at 5 mph while on vacation in a small town in North Carolina. I had an extra 10 days while my car was repaired before I got to come home, all because I didn’t eat before I decided to drive. I’m now trained. I was fortunate not to hit another vehicle or person. I am also much more sensitive to how I feel as my blood sugar drops, since I have the traumatic memory of the thud and crash connected to the swooning feeling of my body.

Only a few scientific studies have been organized to investigate the benefits of a paleo diet for diabetes, but their samples have been small and the time short. Not enough information exists to recommend the paleo diet for other than a short term weight loss diet. It’s not a lifetime healthy eating plan due to the elimination of dairy (calcium), and grains and legumes (nutrient dense fiber and vitamin sources).

With the hot weather outside, I’ll be making tuna salad, chicken salad, and cold, quick meals. Baking will have to wait for cooler weather! Friday might be 101F, with heat factors higher. Crunchy apples and raisins will likely appear in the meat salads. And yogurt, for somehow it tastes cooler than a cloying mayonnaise dressing.

Joy and peace to all,

Cornie

Good article on Stone Age humanity here:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-paleo-diet-half-baked-how-hunter-gatherer-really-eat/

Information on scientific studies here:

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2016/205/4/paleo-diet-and-diabetes

National Pumpkin Pie Day Extravaganza!

Today I’m eating homemade pumpkin pie, made completely from scratch. I’m also recuperating from a heart catheterization, which I had at some zero dark thirty hour yesterday. Since I was instructed to “take it easy,” I thought a little pie extravaganza was in order. If I can’t go Wild in real life, at least I can have some Fun in the kitchen.

First I made the pie crust with whole wheat flour and real butter. This was the first recipe to call for ice water to bind up the dough. I put the rolled out crust in the refrigerator while I made the filling also. Keeping it cool made a difference. It was quite flaky, and not a bit soggy.

I took a cheesecake recipe and melded it with a pumpkin pie recipe because I had extra ricotta I needed to use up before it went bad. Although the container said it was good until January 13, 2018, I didn’t trust this, since it’d been open in my refrigerator for two weeks already. For the pie, I used 4 servings of pumpkin (85 grams each), 4 servings of ricotta (62 grams each), 2 large eggs, 1 1/2 Tbs vanilla, 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice, 3 Tbs Splenda, and whatever spices were on the leftover pumpkin.

As I was making the filling, I preheated the oven to 425 F.

I used the skin and all, making sure to chop the whole fine, mixing the ricotta well, and then beating the eggs into the whole. Then I added the spice and Splenda and mixed again, before pouring into the chilled pie shell. Once I smoothed over the filling, I weighed out 8 servings of Nestle’s chocolate morsels (112 grams) to spread over the top of the pie.

Then I placed the pie into the 425 F oven, and turned it down to 350 F. It cooked for 40 minutes, at which time a toothpick inserted into the Middle came out clean. I set it on a cooling rack for about ten minutes to setup and finish cooking as it cooled.Then I cut it into 8 equal pieces.

You could also make this with baked sweet potatoes, acorn squash, or canned pumpkin. If you didn’t have mild tasting ricotta cheese, you could use cottage cheese and adjust your spices. You could also blend the ingredients a tad more to get the texture smoother too.

Some of you might rather melt your chocolate topping and drizzle it in a design, but I like biting into the chunks of chocolate myself. To each his own. It’s your kitchen. You go for it! I like the contrasts of tastes. For instance, the pastry uses coarse sea salt, so every once in a while, a salty surprise explodes in your mouth unexpectedly. It’s like finding the baby Jesus in a Mardi Gras King Cake.

This is the joy of home cooking, and our loss when we depend on industrialized and mass processed foods. Even if we can’t cook from scratch daily, this is a skill we should acquire so we can appreciate the craft of those who cook for us and produce our food.

Gourmet Trail Mix

Happy first day of Fall! I’m spending my day doing light duty around the condo, which means I’m not out enjoying the tempering breezes and the first colors changing in our surrounding forests here in the Lower Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Some say the early colors are the result of heat stress or wet summers. The lack of sunlight is the reason for leaves not making the chlorophyll or green color, so the other colors in the leaves begin to show through. Actually, any stress will make the trees change early! Stress certainly makes me change, but not usually for the best. Color seems to be running about a week early across the country in most places I checked.

I found a handy interactive USA map for 2017 Leaf Color. You can move the date line and watch the colors change across the country. Very fancy these internet gurus!

https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/

While you entertain your family and plan your road trip, you might want to whip up a gourmet mix of pistachios, macadamia nuts, and deluxe unsalted mixed nuts for a healthy snack. This takes at most 5 minutes to prepare and a couple more minutes to store in airtight canisters or mason jars.

Ingredients

1 cup Wonderful pistachios (preshelled)

4 oz Planters Unsalted Premium Blend

160 grams Raisins

1 cup sahale tangerine macadamia nuts

4 tbsp Chocolate, Nestle Real Semi-Sweet chocolate chips

Mix by hand in oversized bowl. Put into large mouthed mason glass canning jars or air tight BPA free storage containers for your cabinets. Store away from heat, moisture, and sunlight.

Tips: You can vary the mix by adding different dried fruits to this trail mix.

Directions: Merely measure on a scale, mix in a bowl, and store in an airtight jar. Enjoy.

Serving Size: Makes 20 one ounce or 1/4 cup servings

Nutritional Info per serving:

• Calories: 133.9

• Total Fat: 8.4 g

• Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

• Sodium: 52.9 mg

• Total Carbs: 14.1 g

• Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g

• Protein: 2.8 g

VITAMIN AND MINERALS

• Vitamin A 0.4 %

• Vitamin B-12 0.0 %

• Vitamin B-6 5.0 %

• Vitamin C 0.4 %

• Vitamin D 0.0 %

• Vitamin E 2.3 %

• Calcium 2.0 %

• Copper 10.3 %

• Folate 0.1 %

• Iron 3.7 %

• Magnesium 6.7 %

• Manganese 11.3 %

• Niacin 0.3 %

• Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %

• Phosphorus 5.8 %

• Riboflavin 0.4 %

• Selenium 0.1 %

• Thiamin 3.8 %

• Zinc 0.1 %